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Master’s degree in Complex Administrations and Organizations Science – Curriculum Public Management – University of Palermo

Location: Palermo

Department: Political sciences and international relations

Teaching language of the course: Italian

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Both study programmes intend to train a new professional figure: that of the “facilitator” of learning processes and decision-making processes involving various social actors called to respond to systemic and “global” problems. These issues can’t be addressed with a sectorial, mono-disciplinary and static approach. Among these problems, a particular role is occupied by what literature has defined as “wicked problems”, that is, those multifaced themes, running across time and space, which, especially today, pose unprecedented challenges to the society and its institutions. For example: the regulation of migratory flows, terrorism, the globalization of markets, the aging of the population, the prevention and control of crime, the improvement of the quality of life in metropolitan urban areas and suburbs, health and sport, pollution, natural disasters, social marginalization. In Particular, in the last decade, the dynamics generated by this group of problems have demonstrated the unpredictability of the phenomena to which a plurality of decision makers operating in different institutions are called upon to provide answers.

In this context, traditional interpretative models, regulations, processes and decision-making tools have proved obsolete. These approaches to governance and to the formulation of decisions tend, for the most part, to be characterized by a static perspective (that is, not considering their change over time and the consequent “trade-off” solutions), sectorial (that is, mono-disciplinary), and atomistic (that is, such as to govern with policies and decisions formulated within single institutions or single components of an institution, thus losing sight of the system underlying the problems themselves). An example, in this regard, is provided by the financial recovery policies that, in various countries of the world, the administrations of capital municipalities of metropolitan urban areas have adopted. In order to recover efficiency levels in public spending, and to restore a balance in municipal budgets, these policies have sometimes been focused on the adoption of “cross cuts”, and especially in the contraction of the so-called “Development expenses” (such as those for infrastructures, public parks, social assistance, risk prevention). This policy has gradually led to a worsening of the “quality of life” and the attractiveness of the territories covered by these municipalities, thus giving rise to further financial problems for the financial administration of these institutions. In the perspective described, certain decision-making areas concerning the public sector which have been under the authority and responsibility of specific institutions or agencies – such as, for example, infrastructures, education, transport, waste disposal, enhancement of cultural heritage – should no more adder to this fragmented model. The need for stronger coordination between public institutions and decision-makers and, between these, and private institutions (e.g. companies, sports organizations, non-profit associations, families) requires the formulation and implementation of policies that derive from a shared vision of the causes underlying the problems to be addressed. This coordination also implies the search for a greater capacity to implement public policies and to assess their impact. It is therefore a matter of coordination understood both in a “vertical” and “horizontal” sense, aimed at overcoming distorting barriers of various kinds (political, administrative, regulatory, language, cultural, professional). The strategic learning process that can support the described change is the key through which the “Dynamic Performance Management & Governance” approach offers the concrete advantage for an evolution of knowledge and application practices in an interdisciplinary perspective. Although decisions aimed at providing an answer to these problems can only be formulated within individual institutions that make use of specific skills and professionalism, today these must increasingly derive from collaborative governance that presupposes the ability of decision makers to combine a macro vision with a micro vision, in view to find the key to interpreting the phenomena analysed. This perspective, through the analysis of the feedback reports about the relations between the structure and the dynamics of the systems, is able to favour a better alignment between the legal-institutional system, the socio-political and the cultural system, and the managerial system, such as to support an improvement in the performances and the outcomes, not only the outputs and the formal assumptions underlying the actions undertaken by each decision-maker.